The bathroom is viewed as an extension of the living space
A much-publicised evolution of the bathroom into a personal retreat has heralded in a warmer, more organic aesthetic.
More and more, the bathroom is viewed as an extension of the living space – a spa for the masses, so to speak. It seems fitting, then, that a softer, more comforting design style should be taking root.
“The move towards a smooth, classical and natural look and feel is gathering pace,” noted Kerrie Black, marketing manager, Bagno Design. “Customers are looking for simple, organic design that results in a bathroom that is both functional and stylish.”
Swiss bathroom manufacturer, Laufen has also identified “southern, organic, rounded design” as a key trend, according to Ivan Zupanovic, head of international project sales and export, Laufen Bathrooms.
For proof of this, one need look no further than the company’s Palomba Collection, which was developed in partnership with Ludovica and Roberto Palomba.
Described as bringing “the fingerprint of nature” into the bathroom, the Palomba Collection is inspired by small inlets or pebbles shaped by the movement of the sea. The underlying concept is a man-made cube hollowed and rounded by the elemental force of water, creating a collection that hovers between geometric and organic forms.
A sense of warmth is also fundamental to Laufen’s Ilbagnoalessi One bathroom collection, which has been extended to include new signature washbasins in a gentle grey colour.
This new colour option creates a unique effect as it is less reflective than its white and black counterparts. “It also changes the feel of the ceramic surface: it feels warmer, more organic, a little bit like velvet,” said Zupanovic.
The Ilbagnoalessi One series has also been granted with a new range of bathroom furniture, including a semi built-in bathtub and an innovative shower cabin.
The highlight of the new range is Tuna, an elegant 1.6m-wide washbasin that tapers into a filigree. The basin also features a practical ceramic shelf area that acts as an easy-to clean storage space.
Complementing this move towards more organic designs is the resurgence of a more classical style. Kohler recently celebrated the relaunch of The Wellworth, its first, oldest and most iconic toilet.
The Wellworth, which turns 75 this year, has been granted with its first redesign in 25 years, and is proof of growing demand for more classic pieces.
“The history of the Wellworth toilet is a classic case study of a consumer product with staying power,” said Mohamed Nada, regional marketing manager, Kohler.
“Over its near century of existence, it has received accolades for design and performance leadership and has earned a reputation as a toilet that consistently offers exceptional performance and exceptional value.”
The challenge, Nada explained, is to instil such design classics with modern, water-saving technologies. As such, the Kohler Wellworth toilet family now offers a model that will flush with just 3.8L of water.
Also new to the Kohler portfolio is the Loure faucet collection, which blends contemporary classic design with cutting-edge technology. The Loure offers precise temperature and volume control through an innovative valving platform.
The faucets carry the WaterSense label, which means that they feature a low-flow aerator that allows for water savings of up to 30%, without sacrificing on performance.
“Water consumption is very high in the Middle East and Kohler is part of the solution, having always been at the forefront of creating innovative water-saving products and designs without sacrificing on performance,” said Nada.
Sustainability is, and will continue to be, the most important trend in the evolution of bathroom design.
The bathroom can be a key contributor in the quest to minimise water consumption – a need that is particularly pressing in this part of the world.
“We are focusing on infra-red technology, on products like our waterless urinal, and the Hyperlife, a battery that lasts for 30 years. We are also trying to push and collaborate with governmental organisations to make them aware of our products,” said Nada.
Roca has been responsible for creating one of the most groundbreaking sustainable products of recent times. The much-publicised W+W includes a cistern and washbasin in a single, highly compact L-shaped design.
W+W features a renovation system that filters wastewater from the basin and reuses it in the discharge of the cistern. “Its exclusive L-shaped design brings together in a single body what until now was unthinkable, creating greater freedom of movement,” said Samer Deeb, marketing manager, Middle East, Roca.
Room for improvement
The compact nature of the W+W highlights another key trend in bathroom design – the proliferation of flexible, space-saving products. Stefan Schmied, head of the Gulf region for Geberit International Sales, cited this as one of the most important trends currently shaping the bathroom.
As a specialist in concealed sanitary systems, Geberit is at the forefront of this trend. “Optimising space usage” is crucial, said Schmied, and Geberit has responded by concealing technology within the wall.
Wall-mounted toilets that stand free from the floor also create a greater sense of space, as do concealed cisterns and wash basin traps, and flush-mounted flush plates.
Roca has also capitalised on demand for space-saving products with its Barcelona Collection. Designed by Carlos Ferrater, Barcelona “is a unique interpretation of the bathroom space based on the most potent idea for the 21st century home: modularity”, said Deeb.
Addressing these space-saving needs while simultaneously responding to the desire for more comfortable, luxurious bathroom spaces is a challenge that companies are confronting with relish.
For example, more and more customers are installing whirlpools and steam rooms in their master bathrooms, noted Bagno Design’s Black, so the company has responded by creating its own space-saving, value for money options.
“We have recently started manufacturing our own whirlpools, providing a significant improvement in value for money. Our product range today also enables customers to install their own steam room in an area no bigger than a standard shower cubicle,” Black said.
Looking forward, bathroom manufacturers are in agreement on a number of points. The idea of the bathroom as a private retreat will only become more prominent, and manufacturers are charged with creating increasingly comfort-orientated bathrooms that are also water and energy efficient.
According to Zupanovic, one challenge will be to create increasingly sophisticated products out of ceramics. Because although the material is soft, smooth, organic, highly durable, does not fade or age and is resistant to the liquids and chemicals used in bathrooms, it does have its limitations.
“Today, demands on design are permanently rising – large pieces, flat and smooth surfaces and geometrical designs with distinct edges are pushing the options of the material to the limits.
For the manufacturer this presents great challenges, because ceramic is an earthen material that is subject to a shrinkage process while dried and burned,” Zupanovic said.
“To produce ceramic pieces like the floor-standing Tam-Tam washbasin or the perfectly flat, smooth and balanced 01 washbasin, a lot of ceramic expertise is needed.
Laufen is able to cast highly sophisticated designs in high-quality ceramics and we are permanently improving our skills to shift the limits further forward and to make the impossible possible.”
For Geberit’s Schmied, the bathroom of the future will offer “improved comfort with increased water conservation, larger size, more intelligence, more electronic and electric features, fewer tiles, and new materials to clad walls.”
The integration of technology into the bathroom will be particularly prevalent, Zupanovic maintained.
“There will be many solutions that help to create a more individual, more sensual and even more comfortable bathroom experience – new materials, touch-free features, electronic devices, light and sound will pervade the bathroom. And of course, there will be even more sophisticated technical solutions that help people to save water and energy without losing out on comfort.”
Simon Shaya, president, east Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa, Grohe agreed.
“People are looking more and more to personalise their bathroom and to have more intelligent products that answer their needs. They do not want purely functional or static products. They want something that they can interact with. I think you will see more and more interactivity in the bathroom, whether it be in the form of sound or light or smell.
“Plus, people are more conscious about water saving and sustainable products and from that perspective, durable, good quality, technologically-advanced products are becoming more popular because people do not want to waste water but also, don’t want to waste raw materials,” he said.
Demand for quality and durability is already on the up, particularly in this part of the world, Shaya added. This is one upshot of the economic instability of recent times, he suggested.
“In the past, the focus wasn’t on durable products, it was on finishing projects and moving on to the next job. It was quite an aggressive way of doing business, and pace dictated everything.
Now there is more stable growth, which is great for us because it is in difficult times that people rediscover quality brands. People aren’t as willing to compromise any more.”
One thing’s for certain, the bathroom of the future will be far from dull, Black concluded. “The bathroom of the future is anything but boring. All current trends are leading to two main future looks – a stunning high-tech bathroom or a natural look bathroom, or a combination of the two!”